THEORIES OF THE ORIGIN OF LIFE ON EARTH


Men have always been fascinated by the mystery of life on earth and its origin. This has over time led to unending attempts to unravel this mystery by discovering or speculating about life’s origin. Right from the time of the ancient Greek philosophers to modern day scientists, man has grappled with this most perplexing issue to no avail, apparently. As a result of man’s attempts to solve the riddle of the origin of life on earth, many theories have been propounded over time and some of these have become obsolete with the passage of time as they have been disproved through scientific discovery yet others are still popular but without conclusive evidence of their authenticity.

There are many of these theories but they can be subdivided into two groups: theories which propose that life on earth originated elsewhere, that is, that life originated from other parts of the universe; and the theories which claim that life originated on earth. In the first category, the most notable of them is the panspermia theory which claims that life exists throughout the universe and it got distributed by large moving bodies such as meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids. Another major one in this category is the cosmogony theory which includes the theory about the origin of the universe.

In the other category of theories, we have biospecies (the study of how organic life arises from inanimate matter), endosymbiosis (which postulates that micro-organisms such as primordial bacteria were subsumed within each other to form more complex structures and organisms). Other theories are: the spontaneous generation which maintains that certain life forms spring up spontaneously from inorganic matter; the clay theory (which declares that complex organic molecules arise from pre-existing non organic replication platform), the theory of consecutive creations (which postulates that life on earth is subject to an endless cycle of creation, violent and sudden termination and subsequent recreation in somewhat different forms), the materialistic theory (this theory views life as the result of a slow and gradual process of chemical evolution), and the organic evolution (which declares that life evolved from simpler forms to more complex forms over time). In addition, there is the theory of special creation which is found in the biblical account of creation in the book of Genesis and the Quran which says that God created the earth within six days and rested on the seventh day. It gives an account of the creation of the first man and woman-Adam and Eve.

It is worth noting that despite all the best efforts of scientists to prove these theories they have remained what they are at best: mere theories lacking in substance because there is as yet no convincing evidence to back them up. The reasons for this are not farfetched; the theories neglect certain salient questions which must be answered such as the nature of life itself and the force or forces behind the creation of life. How is life fundamentally related to the obvious animated vibrancy of living things as compared to non-living things? What is taken out of living things when they die and the same bodies that once held life suddenly become lifeless? Is the force or forces behind creation blind, unintelligent, impersonal forces or is life the creation of an intelligent being with personal attributes? With reference to these questions, it is my suggestion that the biblical account of creation cannot be regarded as a theory in the sense of the scientific theories because whereas the scientific theories make their appeal on our intellect and, therefore, needs to be proven, the biblical account rather calls on our faith rather than our sense of reasoning.

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